The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


A Badge Of Honour. Kinda …

For some reason, I like having badges made for my colleagues.

Or anything a bit daft.

Of course, it started with the stickers I had made when I left Wieden.

600 of the buggers, hidden throughout the office – and buildings of interest – which they’re still finding to this day.

Then there was the packing tape of Jorge and the guy who is in Love Actually – which is a massive compliment even though he thought it was a huge pisstake.

Then there were the Zaid badges, made and bought on a snowy night in Boston.

Then my leaving Deutsch badges.

Followed by the pencils for Mike and Sam.

And the ‘don’t mess with me’ badge for Meg … after watching how disgusted she was at a presentation she had to attend.

Thanks to COVID, apart from the ‘you’re a twat’ sexual harassment badges we had made and sent to men who had made inappropriate comments to women in the workplace, I’ve been nothing but mature.

Until now.

Lizzie is in my team.

She has many qualities.

She’s fiercely smart. An incredibly talented, multi-instrument playing, musician. Community soup maker.

Basically, she is everything I’m not … but there’s one quality that she has that shines above even those bright lights.

She can see a dark side in everything.

I don’t mean in a depressing, mean, nasty way …

Nor do I mean in a hurtful, inconsiderate, selfish way …

I mean that in certain circumstances, she sees the worst case scenario in things.

Of course, she will claim she is simply being a realist – and there is a lot of evidence to suggest she’s right.

For example, when lockdown happened, we were having a bet on when we’d go back to work.

Most said early October, a few early November … but Lizzie swooped in and said,

“We won’t be going back till the new year”.

We laughed at her, until we didn’t and realized she was right.

Again.

Damnit.

Which is why I decided to commemorate her insightfulness with this ….

And while some may say this is not the nicest thing a boss could do for a colleague, I see it a bit differently. To me, I see it as an investment in my team – an investment at the price of my sons inheritance – which means I’m basically boss of the year.

Sadly, that year in 1953.

Happy weekend.



Two Signs The World Was Messed Up Before Covid …

A while back I wrote about how McKinsey advised a client that the best way to boost their sales was to incentivise their distribution network.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the client I was referring to wasn’t the infamous Sackler family – creators of Oxycontin – and the result of this decision wouldn’t be that tens of thousands more people would end up becoming addicted or die from what has been labelled as one of the most deadly over-the-counter drugs ever produced.

But I recently saw something that could be just as evil.

Maybe not so directly dangerous, but messed up all the same.

This …

What the absolute fuck?!

It’s bad enough someone decided to use Paw Patrol to sell some shitty kids drinks … but to then make that drink come in a bottle that has been purposefully packaged to resemble a champagne bottle is just asking for trouble.

How did this get through?

I mean, isn’t this just a modern version of candy cigarettes?

No doubt whoever is behind this horrible use of exploitation and manipulation is being watched with admiring eyes over at McKinsey right now.

But if you think that was bad, there’s worse.

Something that has confused me to the point where it feels my brain may explode.

Sure it doesn’t involve addiction or death – at least not directly.

And sure, it doesn’t revolve around making kids get comfortable with iconography that in later life may have negative affects on their health and wellbeing.

But at the same time, it’s even more messed up than all that.

Something that makes you question that values and tastes of all of humanity.

Here we go …

What the hell?

I mean seriously, what the hell!!!

No doubt Vaynerchuk will now be releasing copious amounts of video footage of him telling artists how they need to follow his ‘system’ to earn ludicrous amounts of cash for their work.

Who would pay this?

Worse, who would pay this for an NFT of his doodle?

And why? Why would anyone think this is a good idea.

Hmmmmmn, unless the person was Vaynerchuk in an act of PR gaining?

Now I’ve said it, you can picture it can’t you.

To assume any other reason is basically an admission we’re in end of days.

So while I apologise for ruining your week from the first day, please remember – I didn’t come up with this crap, I only write it.



Subscribing To Foolishness …

Our industry loves to follow trends.

Storytelling.

Programatic.

Digital transformation.

DTC.

And the current fave – subscription services.

Each one promising better results than what went before – and yet they often leave a trail of destruction in its wake.

Part of this is because some companies do it simply to look like they are not being left behind, regardless of the fact the business situation they are in means it is either inaaprioate or irrelevant. And part of it is because the impact being promised by the agencies and consultancies is more fiction than a career write-up on Linkedin.

Subscription models are just another example in a long line of examples.

We are seeing companies jump on the subscription model as if it’s a guarantee of unbelievable success.

That by simply offering your product or service at a small monthly fee, untold riches will be raining down on you.

It isn’t.

For a start you need a quality product that fulfils a continuous need – real or perceived.

NIKE’s brilliant Adventure Club is a brilliant example of this.

It satisfies a real need with a quality product that makes sense to parents and appeals to kids.

Disney+ is another.

Both of those are examples of companies who know their audience, know their business and know how to offer a service that has real value to their customers emotionally and culturally.

Then there’s companies like Prisma.

Remember them?

They’re the company who was momentarily popular with it’s smartphone photo filtering app.

Well today, they’re trying to charge £65 a year to use their ‘service’.

SIXTY FIVE POUNDS!!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Now I appreciate that works out to be only £1+ a week … people are taking endless amounts of photos each and every day … but while that might all sound a perfect justification for a consultant to sell a subscription service, it fails on so many of the basics.

Their plan shows no understanding of who they are talking to.

Nor any understanding of the actual business they are in.

And don’t get me started on the lack of understanding what problem they’re solving or the lack of evolution their product offers.

It is a perfect example of bandwagon jumping.

A desperate, last-chance-saloon act to try and stay alive.

A business model based on hope rather than actual strategy.

Someone sold them this.

I don’t know if it was someone internally or external, but this one-size-fits all, white label productising approach to business is killing business.

Yes there may be common issues.

Yes there may be common considerations.

But thinking you can just plug and play a solution because it may have worked for someone else is almost criminal.

And yet many companies don’t want to hear truth.

They don’t want to listen to what their real problem is.

They don’t want to accept people only have a limited amount of cash to spend on these things.

Instead, they happily pay exorbitant amounts to outsource their responsibility for a solution that looks like everyone else’s solution.

As with so many of these ‘business approach trends’, the real winners are those who are the most adept at selling the problem rather than the solution. The organisations who ‘package approaches’ that allow the C-Suite to feel they’re doing something, even though they have been designed to substantially drive the ‘sellers’ growth. ‘Approaches’ that will be sold almost identically to the next client, regardless of their industry or situation.

And the market thinks this is a good thing.

Selling bandaids at ridiculously high prices.

And while PRISMA may have had no other option left to them than to jump on the subscription model bandwagon, you can almost guarantee this approach won’t work for them … because their problem isn’t really price, their problem is they’re not a business.



Dear Daily Mail, Can You Please Leave The Hilariously Stupid Stories To Viz …

The Daily Mail.

God, how I hate it.

Pedlars of hate, half-truths and prejudice, while all the time claiming they are a ‘family newspaper’ that practices the highest standards of journalism.

For anyone who may be in doubt of how bollocks that is, I suggest you do one of four things.

1. Read a single edition of their rubbish.

2. Read about some of their biggest lies, that they tried to claim were true.

3. Read how they – and others – value convenience over journalism.

4. Read the rest of this post.

OK, I know I’ve written a lot about my hatred of the Daily Mail but just recently, it appears their arrogance of getting away with any old bullshit is reaching new heights.

I absolutely appreciate how hard it must be to fill a newspaper every day.

I can’t imagine the pressure they must be under given they always start from zero.

But I still don’t get how they can consider themselves a serious journalistic force when they post stories – on their front page – like these …

… and …

I mean, come on.

This is what they consider news?

A ‘find the obvious soldiers’ game and a ‘grey is the colour of chavs’ article?

Seriously, the wonderfully ridiculous adult comic Viz is more mature than that and they once ran a piece that said cat food manufacturers should be launching a ‘cat arse’ flavour, rather than chicken or fish or duck.

Look, I get in a war situation the enemy may find it difficult to spot a couple of SAS soldiers dressed in white from a distance when it’s snowing. But on a close up picture where they literally tell you there’s SAS soldiers dressed in white … well, it is even easier than those shitty hook-a-duck games you get at dodgy fairs around the country.

And as for positioning people who paint THEIR OWN HOME grey as enemies of British culture, well surely they’ve just hit peak Daily Mail condescending judgement?

What next, an ‘expose’ on how people’s choice of curtains, flowers or sunglasses are ruining Britain?

Christ, it’s grey.

It’s not like that person who built a fibreglass shark on their roof.

Or pained their house with red stripes, specifically to fuck-off the neighbours.

Or placed the Freddie Mercury statue from the Dominion Theatre roof in their garden.

The way the Daily Mail are going on, you’d imagine they were the national newspaper of the communist party.

If the colour of a house makes them – and their readers – so angry, it makes me want to hire a team to find the home addresses of all the editorial staff at The Mail and their readers and have them go round and paint their buildings different shades of grey and pink.

Instead, I’ll just be happy that my house is partially grey and that will deeply offend anyone associated with The Daily Mail.

And to think I didn’t believe I could love my house even more …



The Collab. A Better Twist Than The Sixth Sense Ending …

Recently we’ve been seeing a lot of collabs between brands and artists.

I don’t mean bullshit influencer social content, but proper collaboration in terms of product creation … albeit that it often ends up being just ‘logo swapping’.

Of course that is still marketing, but it’s a bit more effort than a celebrity just fronting a TV or print campaign.

Or is it?

You see, while the people at the brand all think they’re going to become cool and rich by associating with someone influential with millions of fans, the reality is somewhat difference.

Maybe once upon a time that was always the case … and when it’s done right it can absolutely still be the case … but for a lot of the bullshit collabs we’re seeing being pimped out by certain brands [you all know the ones, especially the tech bros desperately trying to look like they’re part of youth culture even though all they are is a fucking ‘productivity tool”], they don’t understand the artist and their fans have a very different view of the ‘partnership’.

To them, the association is not an act of endorsement.

Nor does it make the brand partner cool.

And it absolutely won’t define their loyalty.

The reality is the association is nothing more than a ‘get rich quick’ scheme for the artist and their fans love them for it.

Unlike previous generations, they don’t see it as an act of selling out.

In fact it couldn’t be more opposite because they see it as an act of awesome.

Taking millions off a brand for a moment in their day.

Something that will be forgotten as soon as it’s done.

A novelty for the fans to buy but not to keep buying.

Basically, playing the corporations at their own game but they end up the real winner.

That’s success right there.

Not that most brands understand that.

Most of them still think they’re playing the artist. That money means they can get whatever they want out of them. Why wouldn’t they, brands have been using, abusing and stealing from artists for decades.

But it’s very different now.

Years ago, I was working with a very famous brand who did a collab with a very cool, up and coming rapper.

The brand were beside themselves because they thought this association was going to change their fortune forever.

On set, the artist was a bit of a nightmare – not saying or doing anything the brand wanted them to do – in fact they even used their social channels to tell their fans they weren’t doing this because they loved the brand, but because they were getting big money.

Unsurprisingly, the brand team were not very happy about that, but they reasoned that the association would still be worth it for them in terms of awareness and sales.

And maybe it was … but the real winner was the artist because their fans thought what they’d done was even more cool.

Talking shit about the very people who had hired them and still getting paid millions upon millions for a few hours work.

That’s power.

That’s influence

That’s a life goal we should all have.

So while collabs can be cool when done for the right reasons and the right ways, many brands need to understand that while – at best – they may have a boost to their short-term profits, the cool doesn’t actually rub off on them. In fact, if anything, their desperate desire to look cool to millions has just made them the laughing stock to the very millions they wanted to appeal too.

Because while they think they’re hustling the artist, the artist and their fans are hustling them.

Welcome to the new definition of power.